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Wine spat: Brewery and vineyard tries reverse hijacking

Pennslyvania brewery files bad case with WIPO.

Picture of masked man with the words reverse domain name hijacking

A Pennslyvania brewery and winery has been found guilty of reverse domain name hijacking in a dispute over

Schoffstall Farm, LLC, which does business as Spring Gate Vineyard, Winery and Brewery, attempted to get the domain name in a cybersquatting dispute at the World Intellectual Property Organization.

The company has traded as Spring Gate since 2014. But the domain’s owner, Ashantiplc Limited, registered the domain name in 2006. Therefore, it could not have registered the domain name in bad faith to target the non-existent brand.

Before filing the UDRP, the Complainant sent a demand letter to Ashanti. Domain attorney John Berryhill responded to the demand letter and noted that his client registered the domain before Schoffstall Farm had any trademark rights in the term. He also requested that the Schoffstall Farm include his response in any UDRP filing.

But the Complainant didn’t include this response. Instead, it argued in the UDRP that the domain was acquired in 2018. While it’s not clear why it chose this date, this is when the registrar Fabulous (where the domain is registered) changed its accredited name to Sea Wasp.

The Complainant also argued “retroactive bad faith”.

In finding reverse domain name hijacking, the panel wrote:

The Complainant is professionally represented in this matter and, in the opinion of the Panel, knew or ought to have known that it had no reasonable chance of prevailing in this proceeding for the reasons set out above. The Complainant produced no material evidence that the Respondent acquired the disputed domain name in 2018 and gave no reasonable explanation for its assertion to that effect. The Panel is particularly perturbed by the Complainant’s failure to exhibit the Respondent’s email dated November 28, 2019, stating that it had acquired the disputed domain name in 2006, having exhibited its own letter of the previous date and having been expressly requested by the Respondent to include its reply. The Panel is also of the view that the Complainant’s purported reliance on the Octogen line of cases implies its clear awareness that its case was fundamentally flawed.

Tucker Arensberg, P.C. represented the Complainant in the reverse domain name hijacking. John Berryhill represented the Respondent.


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